John J. Parker

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For other people named John Parker, see John Parker (disambiguation).
Parker and the two French judges

John Johnston Parker (November 20, 1885 – March 17, 1958) was a U.S. judge who failed confirmation to the Supreme Court by one vote. He was also the U.S. alternate judge at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals and later served on the United Nations' International Law Commission.

John J. Parker was born in Monroe, North Carolina, the son of John Daniel and Frances Johnston Parker. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1907 and a law degree in 1908. While at the university, Parker was president of his class in his freshman and senior years, of the student council, of the athletic association, and of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He was also a member of the Dialectic Society and an intercollegiate debater. In addition, he won a number of prizes and medals.

Parker's Supreme Court nomination

After leaving the university, Parker practiced law in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1908–1909, and then, from 1910 until 1922, he practiced law in his hometown of Monroe. Parker married Maria Burgwin Maffitt of Wilmington, North Carolina in 1910. He was nominated by the Republican Party for the United States Congress in 1910 and for North Carolina Attorney General in 1916 and ran unsuccessfully against Cameron A. Morrison for Governor in 1920. In 1922, Parker moved to Charlotte and became head of the law firm of Parker, Stewart, McRae, and Bobbitt. In 1924, he was elected Republican National Committeeman from North Carolina and delegate to the Republican National Convention which nominated Calvin Coolidge. After serving as special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States in 1923, Parker was appointed, in 1925, as one of the judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond. He became Chief Judge in 1931 and served in that capacity until his death in 1958, at which time he was senior appellate judge of the United States.

On March 21, 1930, Parker was nominated by President Herbert Hoover to the United States Supreme Court, but was defeated by one vote in the Senate as a result of political opposition. Parker was opposed by labor groups because of an opinion he had written regarding the United Mine Workers and yellow-dog contracts and by the nascent NAACP because of remarks[clarification needed] he had made while a candidate for Governor in 1920 about the participation of African-Americans in the political process. Parker's supporters pointed out that his opinion in the labor case closely followed Supreme Court precedent and his 1920 remarks were in response to charges that the Republican Party was organizing the African-American vote. The rejection of his nomination by the U.S. Senate was the first such unsuccessful nomination to the Supreme Court since that of Wheeler Hazard Peckham in 1894. Owen Roberts was later appointed and confirmed to the seat.

In 1945–1946, Parker served as an alternate judge on the International Allied Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany. In 1954, he was elected to serve on the United Nations' International Law Commission. He was active in the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association which occasionally offers the John J. Parker Award, its highest award.

Parker was an active Episcopalian and for many years a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina.

Parker died of a heart attack on March 17, 1958 in Washington. He was there to attend the Spring Meeting of the Judicial Conference of the United States and to deliver to the National Conference of the United Nations League of Lawyers an address entitled "Law and the World Community".

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Judges of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
United Kingdom Geoffrey Lawrence (president) Norman Birkett (alternative) United Kingdom
United States Francis Biddle (judge) John Parker (alternative) United States
France Henri de Vabres (judge) Robert Falco (alternative) France
Soviet Union Iona Nikitchenko (judge) Alexander Volchkov (alternative) Soviet Union